Friday, December 15, 2006


Ariel Dorfman on the death of General Augusto Pinochet, Chilean Dictator

“. . .And yet, in spite of all these signs of General Pinochet’s continuing dominance from beyond death, I feel that something has in fact changed quite categorically with his demise. What convinced me were the thousands upon thousands of Chileans who spontaneously poured into the streets here to celebrate the news of his extinction. I tend to be wary of any attempt to turn the death of anyone, no matter how despicable, into an occasion for joy, but I realized that in this case it was not one man’s death that was being welcomed but rather the birth of a new nation.

Dancing under the mountains of Santiago there was one word they repeated over and over and it was the word shadow. “La sombra de Pinochet se fue,” one woman said, his shadow is gone, we have come out from under the general’s shadow. As if the demons of a thousand plagues had been washed from this land, as if we were never again to be afraid, never again the helicopter in the night, never again the air polluted by sorrow and violence. . .”

from an op ed in the New York Times (with thanks to the folks at Red Poppy)

Monday, December 11, 2006


From writing retreat, a snippet of Tim Seibles

from "Really Breathing"

…Jesus is sick of being black too.
And of the notion of sin
and of so many gazillions hanging
onto his wounds. He told me
two times, “Tim, HEAVEN
is HERE! You gutless
termite,” but twice
I forgave him despite my
chronic rage. He wore his skin
like a favorite shirt, like a roaming
storm. Of course, to varying degrees,
I am undone by American history.
I am. Truly.
That’s why when I
speak up – my heart like a
switchblade, my buffalo head
bristling with English – I feel
my lungs start to keel over
right down to my knees, and even
the everywhere animal of air
turns its back on me. But,
but who’s
really breathing anyway?

More on Seibles when I get back - in particular, I hope to get my hands on and post, if possible, his introduction to Buffalo Head Solos, which this poem ends, as it is entirely kick-ass.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


"Pay attention to what they tell you to forget"

That line, from Muriel Rukeyser's poem, "Double Ode," I am taking as my mantra on my two-week writing retreat at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Heading off in the morning. Still too much to do; some of it will get done and some will be delayed. That's how it goes.

Have pleasure, this month. Remember the sweet undertow of love.


Joe Lapp - the Kenilworth Chronicler

Joe's story of neighborhood activism and juvenile car theft in Kenilworth was the cover story in the City Paper a few weeks ago. A great read. Check it here.

Joe's in Islmabad these days, but you can read dispatches from him on his own site at:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Peace through art in South Asia: Project H(Om)e

Check it this cool project, which includes DC's own spectacular guerrilla poet Shahid Buttar:

Project H(Om)e aims to promote international conflict resolution through the arts, peace education, and dialog amongst riven communities. We believe the arts are essential to intercultural peace building because they provide an opportunity for neighbors to communicate with one another, recognize their common humanity, and build momentum toward positive cooperation. In particular, ShantiSalaam leverages the appeal of poetry and music featuring a variety of influences, including hip-hop, electronic, and asian fusion.

Our pilot peace-building project, “ShantiSalaam,” is founded on an eight-week arts and public education tour through northern India and Pakistan in Winter 2006-07. Assembling a team of artists, educators, musicians, and human rights activists from across the region, our team will explore intercultural tolerance through several tools. In addition to conscious performance, public speaking engagements, and street diplomacy, the team will facilitate interactive workshops building interpersonal solutions to communitarian violence by promoting mutual understanding across borders: “ShantiSalaam."

To read more or donate, go to the website:

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Rose Solari's On the Bedside Table: New Poetry, Old Fiction

Really nice mini-reviews of new books by Galway Kinnell, Michael Collier, Linda Gregg, and Louise Gluck, by a DC-area poet. Read them here.


SAVE THE DATE: IPS Forum on the Iraq War for Poets & Artists, Jan. 17

E. Ethelbert Miller, poet and Chair of the Board of the Institute for Policy Studies, has arranged a forum for poets and artists with IPS fellows on the Iraq War. I hope you'll join us in the new year for education and discussion as we imagine a way forward.


January 17, 2007
6:45 P.M.
IPS Conference Room
1112 16th Street, Suite 600

Join D.C. Poets Against the War ( for a forum on the war in Iraq. This 2-hour session will bring together IPS Fellows with poets and activists who have been outspoken against the war in Iraq. It will be an opportunity to obtain information and analysis of the current crisis. Come hear progressive ideas for ending the war and repairing the damage of the past four years. Participants will also read and discuss poems written about the war.

Suggested readings:
D.C. Poets Against the War: An Anthology, edited by Sarah Browning, Michele Elliott and Danny Rose. (Argonne House Press, 2004).

Special Beltway Poetry Quarterly Wartime Issue:

Monday, December 04, 2006


How I read with James Baldwin

Read Kyi May Kaung's poem about our evening last Friday night, when I gave a talk on poetry in wartime at her Salon here. The ghost of James Baldwin was with us in the tiny back room at Kefa Cafe in Silver Spring. Many thanks to Kyi for a great event.

Earlier in the week, she and I were both featured at a conference at American University on refugees and internally displaced persons. Reading refugee poetry in preparation, I found this marvelous poem in Carolyn Forche's anthology, Against Forgetting:


As we boarded the bus
bags on both sides
(I had never packed
two bags before
on a vacation
lasting forever)
the Seattle Times
photographer said
so obediently I smiled
and the caption the next day
read:Note smiling faces
a lesson to Tokyo.

- Mitsuye Yamada, from Camp Notes

Friday, December 01, 2006


Grace Cavalieri on the Small Magazine Movement

Nice historical overview from Miss Grace:

From the hidebound to the mimeo'd to the web. Poetry: To infinity - and beyond!

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